Hospital seeks to boost staff's safety awareness

Needlesticks level off despite new devices

When needlesticks began to level off at BJC Healthcare in St. Louis, it was time to jump-start the sharps safety program. Injuries occurred despite the health system's use of safety devices.

The solution: An educational PowerPoint program that could be accessed on-line or presented at teaching sessions.

"We want to keep working toward reducing needlestick injuries," says Nancy Gemeinhart, RN, BSN, CIC, manager of occupational infection control. "We wanted to make sure that our staff continued to receive proper education in how to use the devices."

Sharps awareness reminds employees of the importance of the safety features. Posters accompany the program to illustrate how to activate the devices — and what not to do. "Gemmy," a gem-shaped mascot that represents the many dimensions of occupational health, holds a target and urges employees, "Don't become a target."

Employees also take a post-test to demonstrate that they have mastered the material. Meanwhile, BJC continues to search for better devices that will be easier to use and more readily accepted by employees.

"It's a constant learning process," says Carol Gavwiner, RN, supervisor of occupational health and workers compensation at St. Louis Children's Hospital, a BJC hospital. "As the new devices come on board, whether it's something totally different or a newer, better version, we realize this is going to be a constant process."